You’ve probably already heard about Francine Busby’s speech last Thursday night to a Latino group in which she said, “You don’t need papers for voting. You don’t need to be a registered voter to help [with the campaign].” Busby, of course, is the Democratic nominee in the special election to fill the seat formerly held by Randy “Duke” Cunningham in California’s 50th District. Unfortunately for Busby, someone taped her appearance, and the audio file is floating around on the web. Here it is:
I didn’t do anything on the audio because, while the words obviously don’t sound good, the clip was truncated and lacked context. I thought Busby might have continued in a way that negated what she seemed to be saying in the brief clip.
Now, however, the San Diego Union Tribune has a follow-up story, and I think we can safely say that Busby is in big trouble. Here is how the Union-Tribune describes the incident:
Many of the 50 or so people there were Spanish speakers. Toward the end, a man in the audience asked in Spanish: “I want to help, but I don’t have papers.”
So the guy was telling her he was an illegal alien. The report continues:
It was translated and Busby replied: “Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don’t need papers for voting, you don’t need to be a registered voter to help.”
So the man had just told Busby he didn’t have papers (i.e., was “undocumented”) and Busby replied that he didn’t need papers for voting. It’s hard to understand this as anything other than an invitation to voter fraud. At a bare minimum, as Busby’s Republican opponent, Brian Bilbray, has noted, she was encouraging illegals to work on her campaign.
Busby has now tried to “clarify” her comments, and, as sometimes happens, the clarification compounds the original offense:
“I was clarifying the question that was being asked in Spanish and then stated that you do not have to be a registered voter to help the campaign because there were many people who appeared to be to be under 18 in the group who wanted to volunteer,” she said in a statement.
Busby’s “clarification” is untenable. Her words were spoken in response to an adult Latino who had just told her he was an illegal, not to a minor. She was obviously answering his question, and her claim that she was addressing her comments to children in the audience won’t be believed by anyone. Moreover, the fact that Busby has offered such an inadequate excuse will no doubt cause many to believe that she must have meant exactly what she said.
Illegal immigration is a huge issue in the 50th District. I think Bilbray likely would have won in any event, but Busby’s unguarded moment may well have sealed her fate.